It’s been 50 years since the birth of the modern LGBTQ liberation movement. How two cities—one that has celebrated Pride for five years, and one for over forty—are showing up for equality.
By Barrett White
Incredibly, it’s been 50 years since the modern movement toward LGBTQ rights was kicked off at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. What began as a three-day uprising in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1969 has evolved into an equality movement that has transformed the nation across not only the political sphere, but within the realm of social acceptance, too.
It has been a long, slow road—marriage equality for same-sex couples was only just achieved in 2015, and the transgender community fights for acceptance and recognition even today.
Pride celebrations in Houston formally began in 1978. Much like New York nearly a decade before, Houston’s first Pride was an uprising. Unlike New York, Houston’s uprising was in response to an appearance made by anti-gay singer Anita Bryant. Over the last four decades of Pride in Houston, the celebration has grown into one of the largest Prides in the country.
In Beaumont, Pride first hit the streets in 2014 with a marching route that stretched roughly a mile, terminating at the Beaumont Municipal Court. For the last two years, Beaumont Pride has been headed by the local PFLAG chapter and shows no signs of retreating back into the closet, as it were.
Beaumont Pride Fest, as it has come to be known since its acquisition by PFLAG Beaumont, has grown to 36 participating community partners and businesses at the festival (doubling in size over the last two years), with a marching route that is still no shorter than a mile. Roughly 2,500 attendees are estimated to have attended the June 6th event, the most in the small town’s history.
Pride Houston, boasting attendance between 700,000 and 800,000 annually, hosts events in the city throughout the month of June, culminating in the Celebration Day festival and parade, typically on the last Saturday of the month. In a departure from many other Texas cities, Houston holds its parade in the much cooler evening, giving festival attendees the opportunity to explore the festival during the day.
Leading up to Celebration Day are several not-to-be-missed official Pride Houston events, including:
- The Genderless Cocktail Party, June 14: Pride Houston’s first official event for the transgender and non-binary community, celebrated at WeWork Downtown.
- Baewatch x Salvation (“BXS”), June 15: The official pool party of the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration, presented by Pride Houston and LOC Nation Entertainment.
- Apollo | Wonderland, June 15: Gay and queer male themed-event, featuring DJs Alex Lo and Ron Zisman.
- Feel My Pride: From My Root Pride Brunch, June 16: An immersive, champagne brunch featuring artists, activists, and mental health specialists.
- Rock the Runway: Official Pride Fashion Show, June 20: A night of avant-garde and high fashion from some of Houston’s top LGBTQ designers.
- Eden, June 21: Official Pride event dedicated to women and femmes in the LGBTQ community.
This year’s Celebration Day falls on Saturday, June 22. As always, Legacy Community Health will be present during the festival with a booth where festivalgoers can stop in to learn about Legacy’s commitment to Pride and their comprehensive health care services, and will appear in the parade that evening with 170 Legacy marchers.
In addition, be sure not to miss Rainbow on the Green, sponsored by Legacy. “Rainbow” will take place at Discovery Green on June 21, featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race star Chad Michaels and local favorite DJ Joe Ross, and many others.
For a full listing of Pride Houston events, visit their official website.